By Rob Myers.
The PGA TOUR’s Waste Management Phoenix Open is recognized internationally as being one of the largest Zero Waste events in the world. Since 2013, all tournament waste – more than 6.4 million pounds – has either been recycled, composted, donated, reused or used to create energy.
Vendors, sponsors and attendees are at the heart of all successful Zero Waste initiatives and must show commitment before, during, and after the tournament. Tournament host The Thunderbirds, along with all tournament sponsors and vendors, use only recyclable, compostable, or reusable materials at the event. Fans and players play an important role, correctly placing materials into either recycling or compost bins. These efforts ensure all materials are put to the next best use.
Reducing Food Waste
To reduce food waste, Waste Management works with tournament vendors to recover unused food and donate it to local nonprofits. In 2018, 24,620 pounds of food was donated. UL Environment has, since 2013, provided a transparent third-party verification of the tournament’s waste diversion, reviewing the tournament’s procurement information and every weight ticket. This process provides an understanding of where materials are initially delivered and where all waste streams are processed down the line.
“Zero” doesn’t just apply to waste at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, as many green initiatives are implemented each year. The tournament has reported its carbon footprint since 2010 and aims to mitigate its impact on climate change as a carbon neutral event. It purchases 100 percent renewable energy from APS, which powers all generators plugged into the grid, most of the golf cart fleet, and other power needs. The sun continues to be a great source of power for solar-powered and smart energy compactors, and biodiesel is used in generators that aren’t plugged in. Reuse, recycling, and composting prevent emissions associated with end-of-life and manufacturing products out of virgin materials. All greenhouse gas emissions from remaining tournament operations, professional and amateur player travel, vendor travel and volunteer travel are offset.
A Water-Positive Event
The tournament also recognizes that water is a huge consideration in the desert southwest. The Waste Management Phoenix Open is a water-positive event that implements conservation measures to ensure water is used responsibly and limits pressures on the municipal water supply. Hand-washing stations use hand sanitizer instead of water, and Waste Management captures between 5,000 and 6,000 gallons of grey water each year. Since 2011, more than 37,800 gallons of water from cooking and cleaning have been reused in the portable toilets.
But there’s so much more to be done. Working with Bonneville Environmental Foundation as a Change the Course sponsor, Waste Management and The Thunderbirds continue to support the restoration of Northern Arizona rivers and streams. This collaboration through the years, also supported by The Thunderbirds, M Culinary Concepts, Kohler and Coca-Cola, has restored 236 million gallons to the Verde River and other freshwater ecosystems in Arizona since 2015, including 75 million gallons of water in 2018.
In 2018, the Waste Management Phoenix Open maintained Evergreen Inspire status with the Council for Responsible Sport and achieved its second Golf Environment Organization (GEO) certification. The Waste Management Phoenix Open is the first PGA TOUR tournament to achieve both certifications and remains the largest event ever to achieve this level of recognition.
“The Waste Management Phoenix Open continues to be the leader in producing responsible sporting events,” said Shelley Villalobos, managing director of the Council for Responsible Sport. “This event continues to prove what is possible when groups work together toward a common goal.”
The 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open, to be held from January 28 to February 3 at TPC Scottsdale, is a platform for highlighting Waste Management’s sustainability initiatives. Waste Management hopes to inspire fans attending the tournament or watching at home to ‘think green’, learn more about wasting less, live an environmentally responsible life, and to pass on what they’ve learned in their communities, homes, and businesses.
Rob Myers is a 24-year public relations veteran and president of the RM PR Group.